(c)2012 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL The giant Mickey Mouse blowup is a favorite for Children who like to visit the Valentines. For Ralph his hours of work decorating his lawn is all about delighting hundreds of children, and parents can enjoy the scene too. Ralph Valentine has been expanding the Christmas decorations since he started it all nine years ago.
Friday, December 21, 2012
(Last modified: 2012-12-21 16:06:06)
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

It was the week before Christmas and heavy rain kept folks in our hometown inside, but weather didn't diminish the last full week of shopping and celebration.

Before sharing a story of hope and healing at Christmas time, I want to finish our chat with Elza Painter, at least for now. You have also been reading here about our friend Lenny Zmich and his ordeal with pancreatic cancer. He will be seeking medical advice and treatment at Vanderbilt University Hospital and continues to have a difficult time with the cancer. One of my readers, Mary Greene, told me of a man who had his pancreas removed as a treatment for cancer. That was six years ago and he is still alive and working in Pigeon Forge. I hope to meet him soon.

Elza's first photo studio was along McMahan Ave. in Newport so if he stepped outside he could see Seehorn Hardware, a shoe shop, and the Firestone store on the corner. "I had the upstairs studio" and he sold Hallmark cards and cameras on the first floor. Fred Hardy was a business neighbor, Hardy Insurance. The Men's Den was a ladies clothing shop on the corner. Other shops included a bakery, shoes, Suggs Jewelry. Add to these Huffman's Five & Dime, Stokely-Shults Drug Store, McNabb's and it was a busy place in the early 1960s.

By 1960, John M. Jones Sr. of Greeneville had acquired the Newport Plain Talk & Tribune from Judge George Shepherd. The newspaper was located where Willie Green now operates Newport Office Supply. With Elza's photojournalism background it was a natural for him to start helping Arthur and Nancy Petrey, who tagged Elza with the nickname "Teddy Bear" and they built a life-long friendship. Elza had his first house built off Golf Course Road and he was the first on the block. There was one other house under construction in 1965, for Wilma Davies. By 1967 Elza had moved his business off East Broadway to the location I knew for 30 years on East Broadway. The grand opening of March 24 was announced in the Plain Talk. Irene Mills was the smiling receptionist and clerk, and she and Elza have been married for 35 years. Some of the other folks near their home on the block include: Kiwanian Lawrence Ammons, whom I saw at Farm Market last week with friends from Newport Federal Bank; and Carolyn Helms, across the street and also a fellow Kiwanian.

Elza also explained how he first met the Petreys. They lived off Walnut at Clifton Heights where Jim Robinson was a neighbor. Just down from the Horace Burnett home the Painters lived in the Gregg house, practically behind the Petreys. They were neighbors and friends since the early 1960s. I discovered that Roe Parks was a contractor on Elza's projects. He found two lots where Diana's Beauty Salon is today and next to the Men's Den. Stokely's clothing owner bought one and Elza the other so they were able to build two business sites with a shared wall.

Elza and Maxine have two daughters who are grown with children. Tandy Jo Lyles is the oldest and lives in Waynesboro, S.C. where she is a dental hygienist. Jorja Lee Williamson is an RN at Southside, West Virginia and graduate of the University of Tenn, Knoxville. There is still a lot more interesting things to hear from Elza.



Take a journey of hope


As is his tradition for many years the Christmas lights went on at and around the Valentine home off Buckingham Drive in Indian Hills. But this year is different because Ralph Valentine is here to celebrate it again after the New Year 2012 began with news he had cancer. After the struggle and medical treatment then, at the end of the year, with Christmas Eve at the doorstep and a New Year, Ralph has discovered that blessings abound and the journey has changed the Valentine family's life. An emotional and most memorable event was the May Relay for Life sponsored by the American Cancer Society in Newport. Ralph's daughters placed a medallion around Dad's neck, donating another cancer survivor. "My family and I want to give back to others that are going through this or will in the future. My prayer is for special blessings to each of you." And in the true spirit of giving, a lesson that has been underlined this year, and because it is the season of giving to others, Ralph offers with his lights and ornaments these words: "God bless you all."

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